What Is Data Reporting And How To Create Data Reports For Your Business

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Collecting and analyzing data helps professionals track and monitor a company’s progress and success. As you know, half of your marketing budget will be spent in vain, but it’s essential to determine which half and adjust your strategy on time. According to McKinsey data reporting canreduce marketing costs by 30%.

Just as your car’s speedometer shows you how fast you’re driving (and perhaps whether you’ll be late for your meeting), a well-configured report helps you determine the success of your brand’s promotions and the effectiveness of your marketing channels to evaluate whether you’ll have time to fulfill your marketing or revenue plan. 

In this article, we are going to cover what data reporting is, how to create a data report, and what dashboards you can use as a guide or template.

Note: This blog post was written in 2021 and updated with new context to suit current state of marketing reporting and trends in 2023.

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What is data reporting?

Data reporting helps you track what’s happening to your business and evaluate its performance. It’s the process of collecting, merging, and visualizing raw data from all available sources. 

Most often, it's presented in the form of tables, graphs, or charts.

Also, you shouldn’t forget that:

  • In most cases, data-based records show only historical data, so you see an assessment of past actions that you can no longer change.

  • To correctly evaluate your brand’s ongoing performance, you need to apply the business context (such as the industry and niche in which your company works).

data reporting process

With modern martech tools, you can evaluate past events, monitor what’s happening in real time, and use machine learning to predict your customers’ future actions.

You need to gather all possible information to get specific and validated answers to business questions. Using data analysis, you can get powerful insights, detect errors or problems, and fix them before significant damage is done.

With OWOX BI, your data is ready for analysis and reporting. Build any report you need in minutes. Eliminate hours of manual work with automated accurate user behavior tracking, data collection, data preparation, and reporting.

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Your personal demo will include:

  • An overview of the OWOX solutions to empower better business decisions
  • A complex and clear analytics workflow for achieving higher ROI and lower ads spend with accurate reporting and insights
  • After the demo, you’ll receive a customized solution for reaching your business goals.


Types of Data Reports

1. Performance Reports:

  • Performance reports are crucial for evaluating a business's achievements over a designated timeframe. They encapsulate key metrics (KPIs) like sales, revenue, and market share to provide a comprehensive view of business performance.

  • Example: A quarterly performance report could illustrate a company's sales figures, revenue generation as well as advertising costs or expences, comparing AOV with CAC, allowing stakeholders to assess the business's health and competitive position during that quarter.

2. Real-time Monitoring Reports:

  • These reports provide immediate insights into ongoing business operations by monitoring real-time data. They enable swift responses to operational changes, thereby enhancing efficiency and effectiveness.

  • Example: A real-time website KPI dashboard displaying website traffic and conversions can provide immediate insights into customer engagement and the effectiveness of online marketing campaigns, facilitating timely adjustments if necessary.

3. Historical Analysis Reports:

  • Historical analysis reports help evaluate past actions and performance, facilitating a deeper understanding of trends and informed decision-making. Businesses can identify growth patterns and areas needing improvement by comparing data over a period.

  • Example: A yearly sales report comparing performance over several years could highlight trends in sales growth or decline, helping to pinpoint successful strategies or areas for improvement.

4. Predictive Analysis Reports:

  • By employing statistical techniques and machine learning, predictive analysis reports analyze current or historical data to forecast future events. This forward-looking approach helps in better planning and preparedness.

  • Example: A report predicting the next quarter’s sales based on historical data and industry trends could help in inventory planning and budget allocation.

5. Industry Benchmarking Reports:

  • Benchmarking reports compare a business's performance against industry standards or competitors, providing a relative understanding of the business's position in the market.

  • Example: A report comparing your marketing ROI against industry standards could unveil where your marketing efforts stand compared to the broader market.

6. Problem Detection Reports:

  • These reports aim to identify errors, issues, or areas of improvement within business operations, aiding in maintaining the quality and efficiency of processes.

  • Example: A report identifying bottlenecks in the production process could help find solutions to enhance production efficiency.

Get a 360-degree view of your marketing performance

7. Insights and Recommendations Reports:

  • These reports delve into data analysis to provide insights and suggestions for improving business operations.

  • Example: A report suggesting marketing strategies based on customer behavior analysis could help optimize marketing campaigns for better engagement and conversions.

8. Visual Data Reports:

  • Visual data reports present data in graphical forms like graphs, charts, and tables, making it easier for stakeholders to comprehend the information.

  • Example: A visual report displaying customer demographic information could help understand the target audience better.

9. Automated Reports:

  • These reports involve automated data transfers, preparation, and reporting to save time and ensure accuracy, making the process more efficient.

  • Example: A monthly report automatically generated and sent to stakeholders displaying key performance indicators could streamline the reporting process and keep stakeholders informed.

10. Custom Reports or Ad-hoc reports (e.g., using OWOX BI Transformations):

  • Custom reports are tailored based on specific business needs and questions, providing bespoke insights that are highly relevant to the business.

  • Example: Data is prepared for a custom report with a transformation tool, and theb visualized in Looker Studio displaying the effectiveness of different marketing channels could help allocate marketing budgets more effectively.

These types of data reports can help a business monitor its performance, understand historical trends, identify issues, and make data-driven decisions for future strategies.

Why Is Data Reporting Important for a Business?

Data reporting is crucial for businesses for various reasons, as it helps in informed decision-making and strategy optimization. Here are some points elucidating the importance of data reporting for businesses:

1. Informed Decision-Making:

Data reports provide factual evidence and insights, which are vital for making informed decisions. They help understand the current situation, predict future trends, and make choices that propel the business forward.

2. Performance Monitoring:

Through regular data reporting, performance monitoring assesses different sectors' effectiveness, pinpointing improvement areas. Concurrently, data-driven insights promote continuous improvement by highlighting strengths and weaknesses, thereby guiding focused efforts for better results.

3. Identifying Trends and Patterns:

By analyzing data over time, businesses can identify patterns and trends that can be harnessed for competitive advantage. It also helps in understanding market dynamics and customer behaviors.

4. Cost Efficiency:

Data reporting can help identify areas where costs can be reduced without compromising quality. It also helps in optimizing resource allocation to get the best returns.

5. Clear Communication:

Data reports facilitate communication within the organization by providing a clear and factual basis for discussions. It ensures everyone is on the same page regarding performance, goals, and strategies.

6. Compliance and Accountability:

Accurate reporting ensures that the business complies with legal, financial, and operational requirements. It also fosters a culture of accountability as performance and results are documented and reviewed.

7. Real-time Problem-Solving:

Real-time data reporting allows immediate problem identification. It helps in addressing issues as they arise, preventing them from escalating.

8. Measuring Return on Investment (ROI):

Through precise data reporting, businesses can measure the ROI of various initiatives, helping to justify investments and prioritize future spending.

9. Improving Customer Satisfaction:

Analyzing customer data helps understand their needs, preferences, and issues, which in turn aids in improving products, services, and customer satisfaction.

10. Competitive Advantage:

Having a robust data reporting system can provide a competitive advantage as it helps in reacting quickly to market changes, optimizing strategies, and staying ahead of competitors.

11. Long-term Strategic Planning:

Data reporting provides the historical data and current insights necessary for effective long-term strategic planning.

By investing in effective data reporting, businesses enhance their operational efficiency and build a foundation for sustainable growth and success.

5 steps to follow when creating data reports

By analyzing data, you can make informed decisions and test working hypotheses. You can specify where your company’s resources go, what progress has been made, and what your company should focus on most.

Want to know how to write a data analysis report? Let’s look at the steps you need to take to create what perfectly fits your company:

Step 1: Determine the Report’s Purpose

  • Identify the primary goal of the report and the specific questions it needs to answer. Different stakeholders require different insights, so ensure that the report is tailored to address the concerns of the intended audience. Avoid overloading the dashboard with excessive questions, which may dilute the focus.

Step 2: Define Metrics and Data Sources

  • Select the key metrics that will be monitored and analyzed in the report. Determine the data sources that will provide the necessary information. Ensure these metrics and data sources align with the previously identified questions and are relevant to the intended audience.

Step 3: Ensure Accurate Data Collection

  • Establish processes to ensure that data is collected accurately and consistently. This might involve setting up automated data collection systems or validating the data collection methodologies. Tailor the attribution model to suit your business needs, ensuring it reflects the operational realities of your organization.

Step 4: Design and Build the Report

  • Design the report layout and decide on the visualization formats (such as graphs, tables, and charts) that best convey the information. Ensure the report is clear, intelligible, and that visualizations precisely answer the specified questions. Utilize modern data reporting tools to create a well-structured report which can be easily interpreted.

Step 5: Establish Monitoring and Update Frequency

  • Determine how often the report will be updated and reviewed—daily, weekly, monthly, or in real-time. Set up systems for regularly monitoring and updating the report to reflect the most current data. Ensure there’s a feature to filter information by specified parameters to allow for more granular analysis when needed.

how to create data reports

These steps form a structured approach to creating comprehensive and insightful data reports. By adhering to these steps, you will be able to produce reports that provide valuable insights, aid in informed decision-making, and effectively channel resources toward priority areas in your company.

Modern business data reporting tools

In the past, marketing reports included slides from presentations, screenshots of PDF files, and huge, incomprehensible tables. Naturally, they couldn’t provide any real-time data or predictive insights. However, with the advent of modern tools, it’s possible to say goodbye to this suffering.

With modern marketing services, you don’t need to be a professional to build the reports you require and get answers to your questions. Nowadays, martech tools provide real-time data and offer easy-to-understand visualizations. With business intelligence solutions, you can collect all the information you need, perform advanced analytics, and bring businesses more value.

Modern services allow even inexperienced specialists to make data work and transform tables with numbers into understandable dashboards with options such as real-time updates, critical notifications, and the ability to share insights with colleagues. Also, modern cloud-based solutions are easily customizable to meet any business requirements and are optimized for mobile devices, which means you’ll have 24/7 access to business-boosting information. So you can control what happens at any time of the day or night, from anywhere in the world.

In the online world, information is everything and everywhere.

According to Gartner, 74% of CMOs expect to increase spending on digital advertising, and 66% expect to increase spending on paid search in 2021. This means companies will spend million-dollar budgets without properly organized and customized processes for tracking their performance.

Best Practices For Effective Data Reporting:

Effective data reporting is about sharing information from data in a clear and easy way so that people can make good decisions.

Simplicity is Key:

  • Focus on core metrics relevant to business objectives to avoid information overload.

  • Use tools like ThoughtSpot for in-depth analysis, allowing users to explore further as needed.

Visual Representation:

  • Employ charts, graphs, and interactive visualizations to convey complex data briefly.

  • Choose data reporting tools based on integration capability, ease of usage and requirements. Only with the correct tool complex data can be broken down into understandable, actionable insights.

Contextual Clarity:

  • Clearly outline the data collection context to ensure accurate interpretation and actionable insights.

  • Utilize tools like Sage with GPT for natural language narrative, enhancing stakeholder understanding and alignment.

Consistency Across Board:

  • Maintain consistent data quality metrics, sources, and reporting periods for reliable reporting.

  • Establish a cloud data platform as a single source of truth to eliminate data discrepancies.

Take Feedback from Stakeholders:

  • Establish clear reporting processes and ensure stakeholders are well-informed to prevent misunderstandings.

  • Engage stakeholders in feedback loops for continuous improvement in the reporting process.

Compliance and Record-Keeping:

  • Adhere to legal and organizational data privacy, security, and documentation standards.

  • Clearly document methodologies, data sources, and assumptions for transparency and auditability.

These guidelines will streamline data reporting practices, ensuring clarity, accuracy, and effectiveness, pivotal for informed decision-making and efficient communication within your organization.

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Data Reporting Examples and Templates

As we mentioned above, each business has different requirements, even within the same industry. If you want to meet any inquiry fully armed, consider your marketing analytics system in advance. You can begin to structure necessary reports by how often they’re needed (on demand, daily, monthly, or once a year) and which departments or specialists need them (some metrics are essential for PPC specialists, and entirely different metrics are crucial for the CMO).

Below are data reports that may be useful to you.

When you need to assess performance and monitor your KPIs in real time, an overall report is what you need. For example, this CMO dashboard from OWOX BI shows the performance of all marketing channels, traffic, advertising platforms, website user bahavior metrics, attribution models and company growth.

overall report from OWOX BI

Overall reports are also actively used for monthly, annual, or any other summaries. For example, this one from OWOX BI shows the effectiveness of a website’s performance.

the effectiveness of a website’s performance

If you want to get such dashboards customized specifically for your company’s needs, book a demo with our specialists!

Note! Of course, not all templates are suitable for everyone. But you can adjust these dashboards and use the most successful ideas for yourself. Looker Studio , one of the most popular data visualization services, has a great gallery of dashboard solutions (see the Looker StudioReport Gallery). 

Let’s have a look at some data reporting examples.

1. Chief Marketing Officer Dashboard Template

Google Ads - CMO
Google Ads - CMO

Website traffic is multichannel. Whether it's Facebook ads, Google Ads, SEO, or referrals - as a marketing leader you need to know whether your digital marketing efforts are paying off and generating the desired ROI.

Paid Ads Overview
Paid Ads Overview

Questions you can answer with this dashboard:

  • Which channels are driving the most traffic or sales to our website, and how has this changed over time?

  • What was the return on investment (ROI) for each ad platform, campaign, or keyword?

  • What is the conversion rate for each traffic source?

  • What are the best-performing ads across all platforms? 

  • How many conversions I’m getting from my campaigns?

  • What’s my ad spend? Break down by period, platform, or campaign;

  • What was the cost per click (CPC) and cost per order (CPO) for each ad?

  • What are the keywords people are using that drive traffic to your website?

  • and much more...

Attribution Check
Attribution Check

2. PPC Report Template

Creating a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) report can be crucial for reviewing the performance of advertising campaigns and for making data-driven decisions. A good PPC report should be clear, concise, and provide insights that can be acted upon.

PPC Report Template

What is covered in this template:

  • Campaign Performance Overview: (Clicks, Impressions, CTR, CPC, Spend, Conversion Rate, Cost Per Conversion, Conversions)

  • Performance Comparison (previous periods, different campaigns)

  • Keyword Performance: (Top Performing Keywords, Keywords Needing Improvement, New Keyword Opportunities)

  • Ad Performance (Top Performing Ads, Ads Needing Improvement)

  • Audience Demographics (Age, Gender, Location, Device)

  • Geographic Performance

  • Performance by Device Type

  • Budget Analysis (Budget Utilization, Budget Recommendations)

3. Google Analytics 4 & paid channels report template

Get a clear overview and analysis of your Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google Ads, TikTok Ads, Twitter Ads campaigns and Google Analytics 4 events on one Google Looker Studio dashboard.

Google Analytics 4 & paid channels report template

4. Google Merchandise Store E-commerce Report

This ecommerce report would typically include metrics crucial for understanding the online retail performance of the Google Merchandise Store. It would provide insights into sales figures, website visitor behaviors, and conversion rates.

Google Merchandise Store Ecommerce Report

What is covered in this template:

  • Overview (Summary of key findings)

  • Total Revenue and Revenue Breakdown (by product categories, regions, etc.)

  • Traffic Overview (number of visits, page views, etc.)

  • Conversion Rate Analysis

  • Customer Behavior Analysis (new vs. returning customers, etc.)

  • Product Performance (sales, refunds, etc.)

5. Website Performance Report

This website performance report provides an overview of a website's overall performance, including speed, uptime, user engagement, and more.

Website Performance Report

What is covered in this template:

  • Overview (Summary of key findings)

  • Traffic Analysis (visits, unique visitors, page views)

  • Engagement Metrics (bounce rate, average session duration)

  • Technical Performance Metrics (page load time, uptime)

  • Conversion Metrics (conversion rate, goal completions)

6. SEO Report Template

An SEO report focuses on a website's performance in organic search. It covers keyword rankings, backlink profiles, and organic traffic metrics.

SEO Report Template

What is covered in this template:

  • Overview (Summary of key findings)

  • Keyword Rankings (keyword performance, visibility, etc.)

  • Organic Traffic Analysis (traffic, engagement metrics)

  • Backlink Profile (new backlinks, lost backlinks, domain authority)

  • On-Page SEO Analysis (meta tags, heading structure, mobile optimization)

7. Organic Traffic Template

This organic report dives into the performance of organic traffic acquisition, focusing on metrics like traffic volume, behavior, and conversions from organic search.

Organic Traffic Template

What is covered in this template:

  • Overview (Summary of key findings)

  • Traffic Volume (sessions, users, new users from organic search)

  • Engagement Metrics (bounce rate, pages per session, average session duration)

  • Conversion Analysis (goal completions, conversion rate)

  • Landing Page Performance (top-performing pages in organic search)

  • Keyword Performance (top keywords driving organic traffic)

These outlines provide a structured way of presenting vital information in each report to help stakeholders understand the performance in each respective area and make informed decisions accordingly. Each section within the reports can be visualized using graphs, charts, and tables for clearer comprehension.

How to improve your data reporting

Correct and timely reports are critical to your company’s success. Therefore, it’s important not only to choose the tool that best suits your business needs but also to ensure that all interested colleagues can access it and work with it. After all, to remain relevant in a constantly changing market, you need to use all available information. Your data should work for you.

There are two common ways to improve data reports:

  1. Go from manual reporting to automated marketing reporting.

  2. Convert static reporting to real-time automated updates.

​As you can see, it all comes down to using modern cloud-based business intelligence tools that are flexible enough to evaluate and visualize complex data. OWOX BI is easy to use and helps you automate data collection and get ready-made marketing reports without the help of analysts.

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Useful links

Key takeaways

With the development of martech tools, you no longer need to be a professional analyst to build data reports and get answers to help reach your business objectives. All-in-one platforms such as OWOX BI help you manage your disparate data sources and evaluate your marketing effectiveness.

When you control your data, you can get valuable insights and grow your business. If you want to start creating modern reports, test hypotheses faster, and keep your hand on the pulse of your business, sign up for a demo! Our specialists will show you how you can quickly achieve your business goals with the help of OWOX BI.

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FAQ

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  • What is data reporting?

    Data reporting refers to the process of collecting, analyzing, and presenting data using charts, tables, and graphs to help businesses make informed decisions.
  • What are the benefits of data reporting?

    Data reporting provides a comprehensive view of business performance, helps in identifying trends and patterns, and enables businesses to make data-driven decisions.
  • What are some common challenges in data reporting?

    Some common challenges in data reporting include data quality issues, incomplete or inconsistent data, lack of user adoption, and difficulties in interpreting complex data.

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Top 30 handpicked Google Data Studio dashboards for marketers

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Top 30 handpicked Google Data Studio dashboards for marketers